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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 braces for 'cool fuel' appeal
  • Schu could test again says manager
  • Force India may have two free seats - Kolles
  • Italian actress claims affair with Raikkonen
  • De la Rosa plays down hopes for McLaren seat
  • TC ban a 'backwards step' says de la Rosa

F1 braces for 'cool fuel' appeal
(GMM)  Today's 'cool fuel' appeal lodged by McLaren could be dismissed on a technicality, according to speculation.

It is expected that lawyers for BMW-Sauber and Williams, the two teams faced with the prospect of exclusion or other penalties for allegedly using colder fuel than is allowed at Interlagos last month, will argue that Ron Dennis' outfit did not follow the proper appeal procedures.

According to reports, McLaren's main problem is that it did not actually protest the outcome of the title finale, relying instead on merely taking issue with the stewards' ruling.

Bernie Ecclestone told The Times that he hoped the BMW and Williams lawyers are proved correct.  "That would be exactly right," he agreed.

To the Guardian newspaper, McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh insists that the Court of Appeal action in London is not a desperate attempt to install Lewis Hamilton as world champion.

"Victory for us would be a clarification of the rationale behind the FIA stewards' decision," he told the newspaper.

The Evening Standard quoted him as saying: "Like all true devotees of motor sport we would never like to see a drivers' championship decided in court."

Michael Schumacher, speaking with reporters after again going quickest at the Barcelona test on Wednesday, said he hoped his Ferrari successor Kimi Raikkonen's title is upheld.

"If you start to change the classification (now), I think it would be bad for formula one because it had been finished fair and square on the track," the retired German said.

The Spanish newspaper 'Marca' quoted him as also saying: "Perhaps McLaren lost the title because Raikkonen and Massa are better."

His opinion that Raikkonen's title is fairly safe is also shared by his former title nemesis, 1996 world champion Damon Hill.

"I think it's very, very unlikely that will happen," the Briton said when he was asked if Raikkonen's title is in danger.

Hill added to the Daily Star tabloid: "However, I think it's worth a shot, having a go, at least, just to establish a principle."

Schu could test again says manager
(GMM)  Ferrari have denied that Michael Schumacher is already scheduled to continue testing for the Italian team at the upcoming Jerez session.

But after his famous charge went quickest for a second consecutive day at Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, the German's manager Willi Weber seemed open to another test.

"If it helps the team, then it will be done," Weber is quoted as telling the Berlin newspaper BZ.

Speaking with reporters on his final day of Barcelona action, Schumacher seemed to agree that whether or not he returns is up to Ferrari.

Referring to his presence this week, the 38-year-old said: "The head of the test team felt that I could be helpful, which I fortunately was able to confirm."

But he refused to confirm that he is set to return at Jerez.

"The plan was just for me to further develop the car now and give as much input as I can during my time here," Schumacher said.

His two-day run at Barcelona came precisely 387 days after his final grand prix in Brazil last year.

The international press heralded his unbeaten pace in Spain; the local newspaper 'Sport' observed that the seven time world champion is "still the same old Schumi".

'Marca' said Schumacher's impressive pace was nothing short of "humiliation" for the active drivers.

Force India may have two free seats - Kolles
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil might not race for Force India in 2008, the team's boss Colin Kolles has hinted.

With Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi and other young hopefuls driving the newly Burgundy and white cars at Barcelona this week, the list of drivers set to also test for the former Spyker outfit has grown further overnight, it has emerged.

Also in the running is Franck Montagny, who after running for the last time for Toyota this week is understood to be lining up a Force India test at Jerez in December.

Also unconfirmed for Jerez are Giancarlo Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher and Adrian Valles.

Sutil is already under contract for 2008, but he is reportedly a leading contender to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

Kolles told sportnet.at that every driver testing for Force India before Christmas is in with a chance of a 2008 seat.

"Whether we have one or two places (available), we will see," he added.

In a blow to rookies including Spanish hopefuls Roldan Rodriguez and Valles, meanwhile, he said Force India will not make its selections based on which drivers can bring the most sponsorship to the team.

"We want to have the best drivers," Kolles insisted, "so really there can no longer be any more excuses."

Kolles also fended off reports that Mike Gascoyne has threatened to quit if Ralf Schumacher is ultimately signed.

"We have always said: if he wants to test, he is welcome," Kolles added.

Force India is expected to announce its complete 2008 driver lineup before the new year.

Italian actress claims affair with Raikkonen
(GMM)  An Italian actress has claimed to recently having an affair with F1's newly crowned world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

25-year-old Valentina Gioia, who claims to have met the Ferrari-driving Finn in a Milan nightclub a year ago, told the gossip magazine 'StarĂ—TV' that she called off the relationship when she discovered that Raikkonen is in fact married.

"Once we were walking near his house in Zurich and Kimi saw a giant photo of his rival Alonso.  He climbed the billboard and ripped it down," Gioia is quoted as saying.

She continued: "When I met him I didn't even know who he was.  He reminded me of a boy-band singer.

"I saw all his trophies in his house and he proudly showed me the steering wheel of his former team, McLaren.

"On another occasion I went with him to a grand prix.  I was hidden in the hotel.

"Eventually I discovered that he was married.  I was watching a race on TV when they said something about his wife Jenni.

"I called everything off, I threw away his gifts.  It is over; I was heartbroken.

"In June I saw him again in Milan in a restaurant.  I was with my boyfriend and he with somebody else."

De la Rosa plays down hopes for McLaren seat
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa has played down expectations that he is the favorite to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2008.

The Spaniard is the Woking based team's long time test driver but he acknowledges that his advancing years do not play in his favor to return to the grid in a top seat.

"I think I had better chances one year ago," the 36-year-old, referring to his quest to beat Lewis Hamilton to the seat alongside Alonso for 2007, told the Spanish newspaper Marca.

He said of last winter: "I felt very confident after racing next to Raikkonen for eight races and was convinced I could be their official driver.

"Now the situation is different; I have my feet on the ground and I know it is going to be difficult -- last year it was just a question of Hamilton or myself.  It is much more open now.

"It is the team's decision and I must wait," de la Rosa added.

He has driven alongside fellow McLaren tester Gary Paffett all week in Barcelona, lodging consistently quicker lap times.

"The team knows me thoroughly," de la Rosa said.  "I do not feel as though I am being tested.

"They know exactly what I can do and the only thing that interests me is to go as fast as I can and try to help the team evolve the car.

"My positive points are that I know the team and the car perfectly and I am consistent.  On the negative side is that I am no longer twenty.  These days it is in fashion to go for young drivers but I cannot turn back time," he said.

TC ban a 'backwards step' says de la Rosa
(GMM)  F1's traction control ban is a "backwards step" for formula one, McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa has said.

Although his Woking based employer is heavily involved in the supply of standard ECUs in 2008 and beyond, the Spaniard said in Barcelona that he would prefer if teams remained free to govern their own electronics.

"Without traction control it is much more difficult to accelerate -- you have to apply your foot on the throttle much more carefully," de la Rosa, 36, told the Spanish newspaper Marca.

"It is more fun to drive but also more difficult," he added.

"We are going to see more mistakes because it is easier to lose control when you are pushing, but there will be the same winners.

"Personally I prefer cars with full electronics.  In terms of technology and safety, I think it is a backwards step," de la Rosa said.

In terms of the effect on the stop-watch, however, de la Rosa thinks formula one ingenuity will claw back the lost lap times.

"Improvements will be found in other areas.  I am sure that by the time we get to Australia, the lap times will be the same as we saw a year ago," he said.

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